Mar 26, 2020
Governor Andrew Cuomo New York Coronavirus Press Conference Transcript March 26
Andrew Cuomo: (00:00)
Robert Mujica budget director. Back of the room, my daughter Kara who’s doing a great job. Let’s talk to you about what’s going on today. First, what I try to communicate in these briefings is are the facts of the situation. And facts can be uplifting. They can be depressing at times, they can be confusing at times, but I think facts are empowering. In a situation like this, not knowing the facts is worse because that’s when you feel out of control or when you feel that you’re getting selective facts or you’re being deceived by the information you’re getting. That is actually the worst situation.
Andrew Cuomo: (00:48)
So what I say to my people in every situation, just give me the facts first and then let me understand what the situation and the reality is and then we’ll go from there. So that’s what I tried to do. The facts on this situation are increasingly important on two levels, public health, but also the economic facts. We’ve been focusing on the public health facts and the response of the public health system to the virus. More and more, we now have to deal on two fronts. We have to deal with the public health situation, but we also have to deal with the economic situation and I’ll get to that in a moment.
Andrew Cuomo: (01:31)
Public health, we’ve had a two prong agenda which we’ve been pursuing aggressively. We still are, flatten the curve. So you reduce the flow into the hospital system at the same time increase the hospital capacity. What we’re looking for is not a reduction in the number of cases, we’re looking for a reduction in the rate of the increase in the number of cases, right? That’s what comes first when you’re starting to make progress, the rate of increase should reduce as opposed to the number of absolute cases. So that’s what we’re looking for.
Andrew Cuomo: (02:15)
The optimum is when they talk about the apex of the curve is not to have an apex and that’s what the flattening is. Not to have that spike because the spike is where you would overwhelm the hospital systems that try to get down that rate of increase so you can actually handle it in the hospital system. Right, and that’s what they talk about by the flattening of the curve. Just as an aside, Dr. Anthony Fauci has been so kind and helpful to me. I speak to healthcare professionals all across the globe literally, but Dr. Fauci I think is just brilliant at this and he has been so personally kind. I call him late at night. I call him in the middle of the night. I call him in the morning and he’s been really a friend to me personally in the state of New York. So this is all about getting that curve down and not overwhelming the hospital system.
Andrew Cuomo: (03:22)
Almost any scenario that is realistic will overwhelm the capacity of the current healthcare system. So little reality, keep the curve down as low as you can, but you cannot get the curve down low enough so that you don’t overwhelm the hospital capacity. So any of these scenarios we have to increase the hospital capacity and that’s why we’re literally adding to the hospital capacity every way we can. That’s what the Javits hospital is about, that’s what the Stony Brook hospital is about. That’s what Westchester Convention Center, that’s what the old Westbury additional site is. We’re also scouting new sites now, all across primarily the Downstate area of this state for possible sites.
Andrew Cuomo: (04:19)
Our goal is to have a 1.000 plus overflow facility in each of the boroughs Downstate in the counties. Queens, Brooklyn, the New York City boroughs, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island and Long Island, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester and Rockland. So every county has a 1,000 plus bed overflow facility and that’s what we’re working on at the same time. As well as increasing the capacity of the existing hospital system. As we’ve said, the hospitals have a 50, 30,000 bed capacity. We’re trying to get to 140,000 bed capacity between the hospitals and the overflow facilities. We’ve mandated that the hospitals increase their capacity by 50%. We’ve asked them to try to increase it 100% but they have to increase it 50%. We’re also scouting dorms, scouting hotels for emergency beds and that’s going well.
Andrew Cuomo: (05:28)
Equipment and PPE is an ongoing issue right now. We do have enough PPE for the immediate future. The New York City hospital system confirmed that. So we have enough in stock now for the immediate need. Ventilators, ventilators, ventilators. I didn’t know what they were a few weeks ago. Besides the cursory knowledge. I know too much about ventilators now. We’re still shopping for ventilators all across the country. We need more. We have approved the technology that allows one ventilator to serve two patients, what they call splitting, which is where you add a second set of tubes to a ventilator to do two patients. It’s not ideal, but we believe it’s workable.
Andrew Cuomo: (06:20)
We’re also converting anesthesia machines to ventilators. We have a couple of thousand anesthesia machines in our hospitals and we’re converting them to work as ventilators. Why is there such a demand on ventilators and where did this come from? It’s a respiratory illness for a large number of people. So they all need ventilators. Also, non COVID patients are normally on ventilators for three to four days. COVID patients are on ventilators for 11 to 21 days. Think about that, so you don’t have the same turnaround in the number of ventilators. If somebody’s on a ventilator for three or four days, that’s one level of ventilators you need. If somebody’s on for 11 to 21 days, that’s a totally different equation and that’s what we’re dealing with. The high number of COVID patients and the long period of time that they actually need a ventilator. We’re also working on equalizing and distributing the load of patients. Right now the number of cases is highest Downstate New York, so we’re working on a collaboration where we distribute the load between Downstate hospitals and Upstate hospitals and we’re also working on increasing the capacity for Upstate hospitals.
Andrew Cuomo: (07:58)
Shifting now to a totally different field, the economic consequences of what’s going on, which have just really jelled after what the federal government has done. And we were waiting for the federal action to determine where we were from a point of revenues and economics. What’s happening to a state government, any state, what’s happening to a city government is a double whammy. You have increased expenses because of the COVID virus and you have a tremendous loss of revenue because all those businesses are closed, right? And all those people are out of work. People are out of work. They’re not earning income, they’re not paying income tax. Businesses are closed. They’re not making money. They’re not paying business revenue.
Andrew Cuomo: (08:50)
So we’re spending more to take care of the COVID virus and we’re receiving less. In the middle of all this, we have to balance a budget. So how do you do a budget when you have expenses going out and a loss of revenue? We estimate the loss of revenue somewhere between 10 to 15 billion dollars, which all these numbers are hard to give a context. That is a ton of money for the state of New York’s budget. We were waiting to see what the federal government did before we determined what we had to do because water flows downstream, right? If the federal government had taken an action that helped state government, city governments, et cetera, that would have put us in one situation. We now know what they’ve done. They passed their $2 trillion stimulus bill. They say, maybe they’ll come back and there’ll be another bill, but maybe, maybe, maybe.
Andrew Cuomo: (09:55)
But we know what they did do with the stimulus bill. The stimulus bill helped unemployment insurance and that is a good thing. It helps more businesses and that is a good thing. It did not help local governments or state governments and it did not address the governmental laws and the federal officials, the ones who were being honest, will admit that. New York state receives five billion dollars from the stimulus. New York state government, and it’s earmarked only for COVID virus expenses, which means it does absolutely nothing for us in terms of lost revenue to the state. The only thing it’s doing is helping us on the COVID virus expenses, which is nice, but the bigger problem is on the lost revenues.
Andrew Cuomo: (10:51)
The congressional action, in my opinion, simply failed to address the governmental need. I’ve spoke to all the officials involved. I spoke to our house delegation. I spoke to our senators and I believe what they did failed to meet the governmental need. I’m disappointed. I said I was disappointed. I find it irresponsible. I find it reckless, emotion is a luxury and we don’t have the luxury at this time of being emotional about what they did. When this is over, I promise you I’m going to give them a piece of my mind, but I would say to them today. This is an extraordinary time in this nation and it’s an extraordinary time for government. This was the time to put politics aside and partisanship aside. This is the time for governmental leaders to stop making excuses and just do your job, do your job. We’re one nation.
Andrew Cuomo: (12:08)
You know the places in this nation that have the most intense problems, address the places that need the help, and this is not a time to point fingers. This is not a time to make excuses. This is not the time to blame everyone else. We’ve lived with that in Washington for years. Now is the time to actually step up, do the right thing, and do your job and they haven’t as far as I’m concerned. Especially when it comes to the governmental need. In any event, we have to do a budget and the budget is due April one. So the only responsible course for us is number one, we have to address this revenue loss. We know the revenues are down. We don’t know how much we don’t know when the economy comes back. We don’t know the rate at which the economy comes back and we don’t know what Washington may do to address this situation in the future, if anything.
Andrew Cuomo: (13:11)
So you don’t know, you don’t know, you don’t know and you don’t know, but you have to do a budget with all those unknowns. Address them realistically, and how do you address them realistically? First, we’re going to adjust down our revenue projections for the initial budget. And then what we’re going to do, which is something we’ve never done before, is we’re going to adjust the budget through the years to reflect the actual revenue. Meaning we’ll say on day one, okay, we intended to give you $100. We don’t have $100, so we’re going to give you $95 but I can only give you $95 if I get …
Andrew Cuomo: (14:03)
But I can only give you $95 if I get $95, and I’ll let you know quarterly or whatever the period of time is, how much money I’m getting and how much I can give you of the 95, and therefore you can plan accordingly. And that’s, frankly, the only way that you can do this budget when you have so many unknowns. So adjust the initial number down and then have periods through the course of the year where you say to school districts, local governments, et cetera, “This is how much we actually received. This is what the federal government did. This is what the federal government didn’t do. The economy’s coming back faster. The economy’s coming back slower, but these are the actual numbers so you can adjust your budget accordingly.”
Andrew Cuomo: (14:58)
On the public health numbers, our testing number’s up again, we’re now … We did 18,650 tests. This was just a massive mobilization operational undertaking. We’d never done it before. You now have to set up all these drive throughs, you have to set up all these testing facilities, and we’re testing more than any state in the country. We’re testing more per capita than South Korea, more per capita than China. It really is amazing what we’re doing, and the testing is important. The testing is still helping you identify the positives and isolate the positives. The testing is not telling you how many people have the virus, and I think a lot of people conflate the two and that’s a mistake. It’s not even telling you the increase in the rate of infection. All it’s telling you is you’re increasing the number of tests, and the more tests you do, the more positives you will find, and we’re working very hard to increase the number of tests because we want to find the positives.
Andrew Cuomo: (16:11)
This is the really bad news. The number of deaths is increasing. It’s bad news because people are dying, and that’s the worst news you can have. It is not bad news in terms of it being unexpected. What’s happening is people who were infected, who came into the healthcare system, have been on ventilators. The longer you are on a ventilator, the more probability of a bad outcome. We now have people who have been on a ventilator for 20 days, 30 days. The longer you are on a ventilator, the more likely you’re not going to come off the ventilator. And that is what is happening because we do have people who have been on for quite a period of time and those are the people who we are losing. That has always been the way. The longer stays without recovery lead to a higher death rate. Right? And that’s not just COVID, that’s any medical situation that you’ve dealt with.
Andrew Cuomo: (17:34)
That is the natural consequence. When you have older, sicker patients who are staying on ventilators longer, they usually have a worse outcome. Right? And I think people get that from their usual experience. What we’re seeing now is that is happening. We’ve had people on for a very long time, and they haven’t gotten better and they are passing away. So the number of deaths is at 385, it’s up from 285 and since we still have a large number of people on ventilators for a long period of time, the experts expect that number to continue to increase. Right? And we’ve said this from day one. You get the infection, 80% self-resolve, they don’t go into the hospital. Some percentage going to the hospital get treated and go home. Some percentage going to the hospital need a ventilator, they’re on the ventilator and they never come off the ventilator.
Andrew Cuomo: (18:49)
That is a situation where people just deteriorate over time. And that’s what we’re seeing. That is that vulnerable population, that very small percentage, two or 3% of the population who we’ve always worried about. But that’s what we’re seeing. And again, we expect it to increase because as time goes on, by definition, we have more and more people on ventilators for a longer period of time. Total number of people tested, 18,000, that’s the breakdown. Number of positive cases, total 37,000, new cases, 6,400. The curve continues to go up. The spread across the state continues, which is also what we expected. Just the way it spread all across the country. We now just have several counties that don’t have a single case. The overall number, 37,000 tested positive, 5,000 people current … So this is the point, right? 37,000 tested positive, 5,000 currently hospitalized, 1,200 ICU patients, which is what we watch most carefully because those are people who need ventilators, 1,500 patients who were discharged after being hospitalized.
Andrew Cuomo: (20:22)
Okay? So not to be redundant, but people get sick, 80% of the people don’t go into the hospital, they stay home, or they don’t even stay home. They just self resolve. Some people get sick and stay home. Some people check into the hospital. Now you’re talking about 15 to 20%. of that, a percentage get treated and leave. Of that, the smallest percentage get put on a ventilator. That’s the 1,290 ICU patients. Some of those people on a ventilator get better and come off the ventilator, some people don’t get better, stay on the ventilator, and when you’re on the ventilator for a prolonged period of time, the outcome is not positive. But the percentage of people who wind up in that situation, it starts with the 1,290 ICU patients. Those are the people who are basically put on a ventilator, and that’s of the 37,000 that tested positive. Right? So we’re talking about a very small population, they’re put on a ventilator. Some recover and some don’t.
Andrew Cuomo: (21:38)
The most impacted states. New York is still number one. Louisiana has a … Is a, quote unquote, hotspot. It has a cluster that is growing and the people in Louisiana and in New Orleans are in our thoughts and prayers. We know what they’re going through and we feel for them and we pray for them and we know the difficulty they’re under because we’re dealing with the same type of situation. So our best to them, any way we can help them, we stand ready. Again, total perspective is the Johns Hopkins count that has gone from day one, 487,000, 21,000 deaths worldwide. My personal opinion, not facts. I gave you the facts. My gratuitous two cents, which is probably worth a penny and a half. This is a life moment. It’s a moment in the life of this country. It’s a moment in the life of the world. It’s a moment in our family lives.
Andrew Cuomo: (22:49)
It’s a moment for each of us. Each of us is with it in our own way, and my observation has been that when the pressure is on is when you really see what people are made of. In a personal relationship, in a business relationship. People can be great when everything is great. The question is what does a person do when things aren’t great, and what does a person do when the pressure is on them? And that’s when you can see a little crack in the foundation of a person. But when the pressure is on that little crack, that little crack can explode and that foundation can crumble, or you can see the exact opposite. You can see them get stronger. But you get to see what they’re really made of and you get to see the best and you get to see the worst.
Andrew Cuomo: (23:51)
You get to see the beauty in people and you get to see the opposite. The outpouring of support for the people of New York has been so inspiring, not just from New Yorkers. I’m telling you from across the country, from across the world. You would be amazed at how many phone calls we get, how many offers of support, how many creative ideas from everyone. We’ve asked the medical staff to volunteer, retired medical staff who are no longer practicing. 40,000 had volunteered. We now have 12,000 more people in one day volunteering to help on the medical staff. We asked mental health professionals to come forward to volunteer to offer free mental health services for people who are dealing with the stress and the trauma of the situation. We had 6,000 people, we now have 8,600 people. We have mental health professionals from other states calling up and saying they’ll provide mental health services electronically through Skype or over the telephone.
Andrew Cuomo: (25:12)
I mean, it really is … It gives me such strength and such inspiration, but I don’t want to sugar coat the situation. The situation is not easy, but easy times don’t forge character. It’s the tough times that forge character, and that’s what we’re looking at right now. People say to me, “People are getting tired of this situation. They’ve been home. It’s going on a couple of weeks, they’re getting tired.” Well, the truth is that this is not a sprint. This is a marathon. We always said this is not going to be over quickly. I understand people are tired, but I also understand that people in this situation are really stepping up to the plate and are doing phenomenal work.
Andrew Cuomo: (26:11)
So the next time you feel tired, and believe me, I feel tired. But when I feel tired, I think of the first responders who are out there every day showing up. I think of the police officers, I think of the firefighters who are out there every day, the grocery store workers who are working double shifts just to keep food on the shelves because people are buying so much food because they’re nervous. The pharmacists who have lines going out the door and they’re showing up every day, day after day, the transportation workers who don’t have the luxury of feeling tired because they have to get up and they have to drive the bus so the nurses and the healthcare professionals can get to work. And those healthcare professionals who are dealing with a virus that they didn’t even understand, they still don’t understand and they’re there working, many of them, seven days a week.
Andrew Cuomo: (27:12)
So yes, we’re tired, but look at what others among us have to do and the challenge they are under and how they are stepping up, and who am I to complain about being tired when so many people are doing such heroic efforts? And I also think this is going to be transformative and formative for society. You think about our children, I have my daughters here with me. This is the first time they’ve faced a real national adversity, right? You have a whole new generation who have never lived through anything like this. They never went to war. They were never drafted.
Andrew Cuomo: (28:02)
They never went to war, they were never drafted, they never went through a national crisis. And this is going to shape them. And I can tell you just from having my daughters with me, yeah, they’re hurt, they’re scared, but they’re also learning through this. And at the end of the day they’re going to be better people for it and they’re going to be better citizens for it. I believe that. Because they’re rising to the occasion. And as we go through this, let’s make sure that we’re teaching them the right lessons and the right response. And those lessons and that response are the lessons that we get from our better angels. And during this difficult time, let’s listen to the voices of our better angels as individuals, as families, as a community and as a society.
Andrew Cuomo: (28:58)
We’re going to get through this. The only question is how we get through it and when we get through it. But let’s make sure at the end of the day that we can say we are the better for it and our children are the better for it. And I believe they will be. Questions? [crosstalk 00:29:18]
Speaker 1: (29:22)
[inaudible 00:29:22] for certain ventilators to New York or what’s the actual plan for getting ventilators [inaudible 00:29:27] actually work? When will it start?
Andrew Cuomo: (29:30)
We have stockpiles of ventilators. They are all across the state. Any hospital that needs ventilators, we get them ventilators from the nearest stockpile.
Speaker 2: (29:39)
[crosstalk 00:29:39] From the nation, from the actual stockpile to New York, you were saying that you were thinking that the President is going to be taking steps [crosstalk 00:29:48]
Andrew Cuomo: (29:49)
We are talking to the federal government about more ventilators. We’re talking to the federal government about more overflow beds. We’re shopping for ventilators ourselves. We’re splitting ventilators. We’re converting anesthesia ventilators to normal ventilators. So we are all over the ventilator issue. Hold on one second. The number of ventilators we need is so astronomical. It’s not like they have them sitting in the warehouse in the federal government. There is no stockpile available. The federal government is doing what we’re doing, which is you have to find those ventilators or convert ventilators or get additional companies to manufacture ventilators. Jess?
Andrew Cuomo: (30:37)
Yeah, there is, but there’s not a stockpile that is large enough to meet the national need.
You said yesterday that the projections were showing that the hospital rates seem to be slowing. Today we see a 40% increase in hospitalization. Were the projects wrong? Are you redoing those projections? How do you right those two figures?
Andrew Cuomo: (30:59)
When you talk to the projection models, what they’ll say is you get a fluctuation. They don’t know if it’s a deviation in what the hospitals happen to report that day, because remember this is self-reported data from the hospitals, Jesse. So they say you get a fluctuation from time to time, don’t look at any one day, don’t look at any period less than three or four days in sequence. So we’ll just continue to watch it. [crosstalk 00:31:29] Excuse me one second, Karen.
By the same token you said today and yesterday that PPE is not a problem, but then we have these troubled reports that some nurses were using trash bags and improvising. Can you right those two statements as well?
Andrew Cuomo: (31:46)
Yeah. We’ve called the individual hospitals. There’s no doubt that in the past few days maybe the distribution is a little start and stop. But we have enough PPE and the New York City officials say they have enough PPE for the New York City hospitals. Melissa, is that right? [crosstalk 00:32:11]
I spoke to Ken Davis from Mount Sinai this morning reacting to the New York Post story I know we all saw, and he assured me that they have all the PPE that they need there. I checked in with Mitch Katz at H&H and Emma Wolf in New York City, they’ve got all the PPE that they need in New York City. So as these individual stories are popping up they’re reacting to them in real time, but they continue to assure us that they have what they need at the moment and we’ve assured them that if they don’t, we will get them what they need immediately.
Andrew Cuomo: (32:36)
We have enough PPE in stock for the immediate need, not past the immediate need but for the immediate need and we keep shopping. Karen?
Budget the quarterly reevaluation, is that something that you would do? Would you do it in conjunction with the legislature? And what advice would you give to school districts and local governments how to cope with that?
Andrew Cuomo: (32:58)
Look, we’re all coping with the same thing, first of all. The federal government has a revenue loss. State governments have a revenue loss. City governments have a revenue loss. So no one can say, Karen, “Well, I don’t accept this reality of a revenue loss.” It is a reality for everyone and everyone has to adjust to it.
Andrew Cuomo: (33:25)
I’m sure there will be some people who say, “Well, I shouldn’t have to adjust to it. I should be held harmless from reality.” No one’s held harmless from reality. Go tell any family out there reality doesn’t count. So everyone is going to have to deal with the reality. I can’t protect them from the reality.
Andrew Cuomo: (33:50)
Again, we’ve never done this before. Doesn’t mean we can’t, just that we never have. But what we’re thinking about is quarterly, or something like that, adjustments that are almost mathematical reflections of what the revenues are. In other words, you know what the revenue projection is and you know how much money you’ve made for that quarter. And whatever that deviation is would be automatic. It would be done by the Division of the Budget. I don’t believe the legislature is going to want to come up here every quarter and go through numbers. At this rate with the spread of the virus, I don’t even know that it would be responsible to ask for a convening of the legislature periodically. But that’s the general concept we’re talking about.
Andrew Cuomo: (34:47)
This is all a reaction to what the federal government did yesterday. I was shocked that they were so irresponsible in addressing the state and the city need. I never believed that they would just pass a piece of legislation that didn’t address it. They just did not address the revenue shortfall. They provided money for COVID, the amount of money we’re spending on the virus, but they just did nothing on the revenue loss. They know we have to fund education. They’ll all say in their speeches, “Education, education, it’s our children’s future.” And then they do absolutely nothing in the legislation.
Andrew Cuomo: (35:35)
So I just want to keep it in check, as I said, emotion is a luxury, right? To be angry is a luxury. We don’t have that luxury right now. Let’s just deal with the facts, let’s get through it. Let me ask Rob Mujica, who is the mastermind of the budget, have I said anything wrong or is that what his plan is? Sometimes he has plans that he doesn’t tell me about, Karen.
Rob Mujica: (36:01)
No, we would look at our revenue forecast. Right now the governor said $10 to $15 billion is how much we project to be below forecast. So we’d project that out over the quarters and bimonthly. Those are transparent, you’ll see what the revenues are every month, and we’ll adjust spending according to how the revenues come in. And that will be reflected, everyone will see those, the comptroller will see those. And the goal is to be transparent up front so school districts can see this is what would happen if we don’t reach the revenue forecast. So they would know what would happen each quarter.
Governor, we’re getting some reports about hospitals in Buffalo who say that they’re close to running out of PPE supplies in the next week-and-a-half or so, as early as that. Is there a plan to maybe direct more of that to western New York to Buffalo?
Andrew Cuomo: (36:47)
Yeah. First of all, Nick, anyone can give you a report that they’re close to running out of PPE in a week-and-a-half. I am close to running out of PPE in a week-and-a-half. That is the status across the country. When I said we have enough for the immediate future, I mean the immediate future. We don’t have enough for the long-term supply. The numbers are that fast.
Andrew Cuomo: (37:12)
But any hospital anywhere, whatever we have we’ll distribute. And we distribute it on an as needed basis. So to say, “I need it in a week-and-a-half,” frankly, we’re dealing with hospitals that need it tomorrow and the day after. That’s the kind of timeframe we’re dealing with. But we’re doing everything we can, we’re buying from China. I have people calling and volunteering private planes to go to China to pick up materials. It’s really been extraordinary. But anything we have we will distribute. [crosstalk 00:37:50] Zack? I stopped Zack twice.
On the policy side, State Senator Diane Savino said that the gig worker task force, it just wasn’t enough time to resolve outstanding differences [inaudible 00:38:02] state budget deadline. What’s your response?
Andrew Cuomo: (38:07)
The gig worker task force … I have to step back, Zack. I said I want to do everything, because I want to just do a budget. I want to do the policy initiatives we need to do because my expectation at this point is there’s going to be a budget and nothing else. Normally we pass a budget and then we come back for weeks and discuss policy matters. I don’t know at this rate that there are going to be weeks of legislative discussion afterwards. So I’m trying to get as much done as we can in the budget.
Andrew Cuomo: (38:43)
The caveat is there are some issues that you really have to talk through and think through and the language is important and the details are important. Otherwise you pass a bill … It’s not about passing a bill, right? The legislature focuses on passing a bill. I focus on passing a bill that is the best and smartest bill you can pass and that you’re not going to have to come back and redo the next year because you didn’t think it through.
Andrew Cuomo: (39:11)
The gig economy is a complicated issue. And I don’t believe we’re going to get the gig economy done in time for the budget. If they do come back and they do stay for weeks, and we have time to talk it through, fine. But if you are asking me are we going to be ready by next Tuesday? I don’t think so. [crosstalk 00:39:33]
Speaker 3: (39:32)
New York City health officials have said that outpatient testing should not be promoted, it should not be “encouraged, promoted or advertised.” You’re saying the completely opposite, that we should be testing and testing as much as possible. How do we square the two if we’re seeing conflicted messages from the state and city on this?
Andrew Cuomo: (39:51)
If the city doesn’t have the capacity … It’s a capacity issue, right? If you have the capacity to test, test. Because flatten the curve. How do you flatten the curve? There’s only two ways, density control, keep people away from each other, and test. How did China do it? How did South Korea do it? How did everybody do it? Density control and testing.
Andrew Cuomo: (40:20)
If you don’t have the capacity to test and you can only test people, for example, who are coming in to your hospitals, then you don’t have the ability to do it. But if you have the ability to do it, do it, because it’s a way to flatten the curve. If you don’t have the capacity and the ability, then you don’t do it.
Speaker 3: (40:41)
City hospitals are struggling right now and close to reaching capacity. Elmhurst, I think, was running at 125% at this point. How close are we to sending patients upstate where there is more availability?
Andrew Cuomo: (40:52)
It goes in tranches. We have more overflow capacity … First within that hospital system, you would distribute patients, right? So within New York City, one hospital is at 125% let’s say, okay, distribute within that hospital system because not all the hospitals are at capacity. Second, you have overflow facilities that we’re constructing. I’m going back to Javits tomorrow. The other ones that we’ve been discussing. You’d only do the regional distribution once you get past everything you can do within that area.
Andrew Cuomo: (41:38)
I’m not eager to redistribute people from downstate to upstate. There are just practical consequences. The family would have to travel further to visit them, et cetera. So that’s the last option. [crosstalk 00:41:51]
Speaker 4: (41:53)
A migration of families and individuals from the New York City area into upstate counties. Would you consider either a travel ban or authorizing these counties to mandate a 14-
Speaker 4: (42:03)
… authorizing these counties to mandate a 14-day quarantine.
Andrew Cuomo: (42:06)
The counties can come with whatever suggestions they want. I don’t have any mandating, any travel ban on my agenda.
Speaker 5: (42:15)
In Florida, the governor there just imposed a 14-day quarantine for anyone coming in from New York state, since it’s the epicenter right now. Do you think that’s an appropriate step, and do you think people who are leaving on private planes for their second homes should be banned from doing that?
Andrew Cuomo: (42:32)
Yeah, I’m not a doctor. I have a sister who is a doctor, I have a little doctor envy. I’d refer back to Dr. Zucker’s comment from yesterday. He’s the health commissioner from the state. He had strong opinions on that issue, and I’d refer back to that.
Speaker 5: (42:49)
But the governors [inaudible 00:42:50] law enforcement to force that prohibition. Do you think that’s curbing safety and concerns for New York residents who are leaving?
Andrew Cuomo: (42:58)
Well, Dr. Zucker’s position was it’s not necessary, and I would agree with Dr. Zucker.
Speaker 6: (43:03)
You’ve talked about the apex, but how many days on the most conservative estimate until we run out of ventilators?
Andrew Cuomo: (43:16)
How many days on the most conservative estimate until we run out of ventilators? The maximum projection of an apex number for ventilators was about 40,000, right? We have maybe about 12,000, in that range, ventilators. That’s before you talk about anesthesia machines and before you talk about splitting and that number changes.
Andrew Cuomo: (43:41)
We don’t have an estimate for when we would get there, and hopefully we never do.
Speaker 9: (43:47)
[crosstalk 00:43:47] What’s your timeline for getting more testing kits on the state?
Andrew Cuomo: (43:52)
Any hospital that needs more testing kits… Again, we don’t have enough. Hospitals tend to like to have supplies for a prolonged period of time, which I understand. So they want to have a one-month supply, a three-week supply. We don’t have that ability. If we can provide a few days supply, that’s what we’re looking at, which makes them uncomfortable, I understand, but that’s just the situation we’re in. But any hospital that needs supplies immediately, the Department of Health can provide them. Anyone who needs a test, and if the hospital doesn’t have the supplies, we have mobile testing units that can go test the person so they just have to contact the Department of Health.
[crosstalk 00:44:40] this question. You were asked yesterday, but just to reemphasize, there’s no plan in place for a ventilator protocol where certain patients would be prioritized-
Andrew Cuomo: (44:48)
… over others. And also on the issue of construction workers. Is there a reason they’re being treated as essential workers? We’ve heard complaints from some who feel like they’re working on top of other, that these are not sanitary conditions. Why are construction workers included?
Andrew Cuomo: (45:02)
We’re looking at that now, Jesse. I understand the point and I hear the point. I think some construction is essential, right? But it is something we’re looking at, because I understand the point and it sounds right to me.
Andrew Cuomo: (45:20)
[crosstalk 00:45:21] The Department of Labor today reported 3.3 million people have filed for unemployment, and there’s probably a lot more considering people who can’t apply or had been waiting in line. What’s your message for the people who have lost their jobs over the last several days?
Andrew Cuomo: (45:32)
Yeah, it’s not… No one has lost their job, I would say to provoke them. We have all lost our jobs. It’s different. When you lose a job, it tends to suggest maybe you did something wrong, maybe it was your performance, a statement in evaluation of you. This has nothing to do with you. It’s the circumstance that we are in, and we must correct it.
Andrew Cuomo: (46:05)
There’s a strength in the fact that it’s all of us, right? When it’s just you, then you’re on your own. When it’s all of us, that suggests we have to do something about it because the collective demands it, and that’s where we are. I am sure it is a terrible feeling and a frightening feeling for everyone, Nick, for everyone. Nobody’s been here before.
Andrew Cuomo: (46:37)
I’m out of work. My business is closed. I don’t have a paycheck. I can’t leave the house. The house has the family in it, or I’m all alone. No one has been here before, and that’s why… Look, it is going to change us. I really believe that. It is going to help form a new generation. I can see it in my daughters’ eyes when I talk to them about this every night. I can see the fear. I can see their eyes open wide. They’re taking it all in. What does it mean? This is going to form a new generation, and it will transform who we are and how we think, but it’s you’re not alone. You’re not alone. Nobody is alone. We are all in the same situation.
Andrew Cuomo: (47:29)
Let’s do someone who hasn’t answered a question if that’s okay.
Speaker 7: (47:31)
What’s the plan for-
Andrew Cuomo: (47:33)
Asked a question.
Speaker 7: (47:33)
What’s the plan for schools beyond the original shutdown order, particularly for school board elections, Regents exams in the spring? What’s the longer term plan for school districts?
Andrew Cuomo: (47:43)
We’re looking at it on an ongoing basis, unless you want to add something, James?
The only modification to that is the ELA exams, the math and sciences exams, were suspended, basically canceled for this year by the State Education Department. As the governor said, the school closure plans are set to come back on. We’re looking at that right now.
Andrew Cuomo: (48:06)
One more from someone… Did he answer your question?
Speaker 7: (48:09)
Sort of, but New York City’s already said they’re closed till at least April 20th. This order only goes till April 1st so just how should schools be planning for that?
We’re evaluating, the governor’s evaluating that now, and there’s going to be a decision on whether to extend the closure. Remember the 180-day waiver ends effectively April 1st. So whether to extend it or not is being considered by us right now, by the governor right now.
Speaker 5: (48:33)
How many healthcare workers-
Andrew Cuomo: (48:35)
Let’s take one more from someone who… Anyone who hasn’t asked a question?
Speaker 8: (48:39)
A couple of days ago you mentioned getting people back to work, and you have to start thinking about that. Do you have a plan for that now or is that still something that you’re working out?
Andrew Cuomo: (48:48)
It’s something that the nation is working out, something that we’re working through. And I think the smartest way forward is a modified public health strategy that dovetails and complements a get back to work strategy. Right? What we did was we closed everything down. That was our public health strategy, just close everything. All businesses, all workers, young people, old people, short people, tall people, every school, close everything.
Andrew Cuomo: (49:27)
If you rethought that, or had time to analyze that public health strategy, I don’t know that you would say, “Quarantine everyone.” I don’t even know that that was the best public health policy. Young people then quarantined with older people was probably not the best public health strategy because the younger people could have been exposing the older people to an infection.
Andrew Cuomo: (49:55)
So how do you modify the public health strategy to make it smarter from a public health point of view, but also starts to get you back to work? Younger people can go back to work. People who have resolved can go back to work. People who, once we get this antibody test, show that they had the virus and they resolved, can go back to work. That’s how I think you do it. It’s not we’re going to either do public health or we’re going to do economic development restarting. We have to do both. We have to do both. That’s-
Speaker 8: (50:30)
Is there a timeline?
Andrew Cuomo: (50:31)
No, but we’re working on it, and I think that’s the same thing the federal government is working through. [crosstalk 00:50:35] I’m going to go to work guys. Thank you very much.
Speaker 6: (50:39)
[crosstalk 00:50:39] last stimulus bill that could tie your hands? [inaudible 00:50:42]
Andrew Cuomo: (50:46)
No, they never fixed that bill. They never fixed it. They said they would. They never did.
Speaker 5: (50:54)
Why isn’t the state willing to say how many healthcare workers have COVID?
Andrew Cuomo: (50:54)
What is the state… I’m sorry?
Speaker 5: (50:55)
Why is the state not listing how many healthcare workers have COVID and other details about pieces like where they are exactly [crosstalk 00:51:02]
Andrew Cuomo: (51:02)
If we know it, we will release it. Thank you.
Sharon Broome: (51:12)
Good morning. Thank you all for providing us this opportunity to continue providing regular briefings to our community on the various and proactive efforts we’re taking to address the issues surrounding our fight against the spread of the coronavirus. Today I’m here with a number of our community partners to highlight yet again how our community rallies together when a need is identified.
Sharon Broome: (51:42)
Personal protective equipment, or PPE, is a critical resource for our hospitals, first responders and others in our community as well. It is essential in our effort to protect our frontline employees and our citizens. As you can imagine, right now throughout our country and our community, PPE is a scarce resource.
Sharon Broome: (52:06)
As I advocated for in my letter this week to President Trump, I firmly believe from a national level that we must increase the domestic production of medical supplies and equipment. Otherwise, I’m concerned that we will be very shortly facing a crisis in this situation, which brings me to our announcement today, a great announcement. In collaboration with our hospitals and healthcare partners in a localized effort to provide additional PPE for our medical personnel who are caring for our friends, family members and coworkers, we have come together once again, forming a community drive…